I have no problems with standing up in front of a class and speaking to a group, but I am struggling with being confident and assertive of my authority in the classroom as a teacher.

It sounds silly to be like this with a bunch of 18 year olds but I can sometimes feel intimidated by some and then tempted to ignore them, meaning that they can get away with not doing any work becase im too scared to talk to them!

I havent had to deal with any serious issues yet, only for instance surfing the internet, chatting during class etc, but Im concerned that if I do not assert my authority now that the students will think they can get away with alot worse behaviour, plus their work may suffer which is what I want to avoid. I want to be able to help them, not be too scared to do so.

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Hi Alex,

I think we all go through this - I know I did the very first time I ever taught a class when I was 17 on work experience at my old secondary school! Working subsequently with, at times, some of the most challenging students in schools and colleges when LSAing, I've learnt that shying away and ignoring the bad stuff because I was scared, made things worse in the long run - you definitely have to address it quickly.

I think the firm but fair attitude seems to work. Even now, my mentor has said I can be too laid back generally, but when something comes up, I use the 'teacher' voice, and this usually works. I have had to take a student aside for a chat too.

I still get scared of the really gobby, abusive, sometimes threatening students, but I find the trick is to keep really calm, I even talk at a lower pitch so they have to quieten down to hear me. If you get worked up or ignore it, they think its ok, and it's not.

I have found that when you are close in age to the students, they think they can get away with more, so just remind yourself that you are the teacher and authority figure, it's your lesson they are part of, and if all else fails, fake it! They don't know if you're bricking it on the inside if you are confident and authoritative on the outside! What I tend to do now is to target the difficult ones first, just to get it over with and it shows the rest of the group that you want everyone to have the same opportunities and behave in a certain way.

Hope that helps?!

Alex i am finding myself in a similar situation. Not scared necessarily but I find it hard to know what "head" to put on.

I have 2 personas:

The "work" me - the cut throat, do or die, get it done or else sort of thing that's been expected of me

and

The "me" me - the happy-go-lucky, off the wall dude

Neither of which are really that suited to classroom management.

I know what you'll say - "combine the two". But it's easier said than done isn't it.

It's a tough one!!

Gina :-)

Hi Alex,

I can relate to your dilemma 100% - I think classroom management is such a challenging task as it is forever changing. One week a class will be angels and the following week the same learners can be a complete nightmare. I have often heard in the past to hit hard and ease off once you know, they know the limits, but I find this such a challenge when I enjoy what I'm teaching! Perhaps it is a beginners thing, and is something that we will learn more about as we gain more experience? As we have discussed before the best way to deal with bad behaviour is to avoid it, so keep those learners busy!

Totally agree with Lucy's idea of a lower, calm pitch. Perhaps take another look at those videos we watched with good and bad examples of how to deal with different behaviours.

Hi Alex, I feel the same as you. In fact I think every teacher feels this way before every lesson. I've been told it will come with time and experience, just keep getting back up there and arm yourself with a few management tips. I had the same thing the other day. After taking over from my Mentor a few students wanted to test me, to know what the boundaries were...and I shrunk from some and others I dealt with. I intend to deal with another one in the next lesson. In fact I was surprised how most students wanted to help and to be honest most of the students in the group are getting quite fed up with the ones that keep taking centre stage and are quite happy when someone finally  challanges them and give them a chance.

Hi Alex,

Don't be so nice.  If you are naturally a nice person, then this sort of stuff does become difficult.  What you will have to be careful of is 'snapping'.  I'm not saying it will happen, but it has to be avoided.  What I'm trying to say is don't let your nerves become so powerful that they make you angry (with yourself OR the students) which will lead to a natural defence mechanism, which is attack... 

Your authority has to remain.  You DO have it.  YOU are the one standing at the front... students all know this, they are just waiting for your to tell them that...

Hi Alex,

I am not sure about your classroom layout or set-up. Edward T Hall highlights the importance of spacial awareness and management. I myself am a little bit of a wanderer when I teach. Being that much closer to students I find they are more liable to ask for help if they are struggling with something. But from a behavioural aspect I believe it helps quieten the more lively students. It is easier for them to be lively when you are 10m away and their nearest humans are buddies egging them on, if you are stood to the side of them (around 1.2-3m) they are less likely to be the standout person.

Also being a stroller also helps reduce any fear of being the center of attraction at all the time as some of it yoy are behind the students.

One final tip I know from previous career activities, 'if you are going to be the teacher .. know what you are going to teach'. An audience will work out very quickly you are a waffler which oftens leads to disrespect and authority challenge.

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